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12 best recipe boxes for delivery in 2024

From Gousto to Green Chef, these tried and tested meal kits bring restaurant-quality dinners to your doorstep

Siobhan Grogan
Tuesday 09 April 2024 14:00 BST
We considered everything from quality of ingredients to portion size
We considered everything from quality of ingredients to portion size (The Independent )
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We’re all guilty of resorting to cooking the same old thing night after night. Recipe boxes can bring some excitement back to the kitchen by delivering individually portioned ingredients for home-cooked meals straight to your door.

They’re certainly a huge time saver in a busy household. These clever kits remove the thinking and planning from dinner time and mean you won’t need to trudge around the supermarket or do an emergency corner shop dash to buy ingredients each week. They’re also ideal for anyone struggling with inspiration who is keen to cook something new without scouring through cookbooks first.

There’s a recipe box to suit almost everyone too. Whether you want to eat more vegetables, find something the whole family will love, or make a special occasion simpler, these meal kits will have you sitting down at the table in no time. There’s also very little food waste as the ingredients are pre-measured for each recipe, making the boxes ideal for someone not used to cooking and who may not have the usual store cupboard ingredients. All come with clear, step-by-step recipe cards that are easy to follow.

Of course, recipe boxes can be an expensive way to cook, especially if you already have a lot of basic ingredients lurking in your kitchen cupboard. To get the most out of your subscription, it’s worth checking what will be included in each delivery online before it arrives and changing recipes to suit your preferences or dietary requirements. It’s also essential to check if the subscription can be paused when you’re away or too busy to cook.

If you’d prefer an occasional treat or want to buy a box for someone else, it’s worth considering a one-off meal kit instead, particularly if you want to try cooking restaurant-quality food at home. These give you all the benefits of a recipe box without the ongoing commitment, so you can dine in style from your own kitchen table.

How we tested the best recipe boxes

A selection of the recipe boxes that we tested for this review (Siobhan Grogan)

We tested a range of recipe boxes by donning our apron and cooking them all in our own kitchen. We considered the quality of the ingredients, how eco-friendly the packaging was, how easy the instructions were to follow and the portion size of each meal. Most importantly, we judged the flavour of the final meal and if it was something we would want to cook – and eat – again.

The best recipe boxes for 2024 are:

  • Best recipe box overall – Gousto: From £2.99 per portion,
  • Best budget recipe box – SimplyCook: First box from £3,
  • Best organic recipe box –Riverford: From £14.75 for one recipe for two people,
  • Best recipe box for special occasions –Côte at Home: From £24.95 for two courses for two people, Cô

Gousto recipe box

  • Best: Recipe box overall
  • Number of portions: Two or four
  • Delivery frequency: Weekly
  • Why we love it
    • Great range of recipes
    • Flexible subscription can be paused or cancelled anytime
    • Good quality ingredients
    • Value for money

There’s a good reason that Gousto is now one of the country’s biggest and best-known recipe subscription services. We were impressed by the vast range of recipes on offer before we’d even received our box. There are over 250 to choose from each month including several plant-based, gluten-free and dairy-free options and plenty that would suit the whole family. Boxes are delivered weekly but can be paused or cancelled at any time – and the more you order, the cheaper each meal works out. The cheapest option is a box of four recipes serving four adults, but you can choose as little as two recipes for two people a week, which works out at around £6 per person. We found every recipe was generous and often left us with leftovers for lunch the next day.

The box got the thumbs-up before we’d even started cooking. Spices arrived in paper sachets rather than plastic bags, most veg was loose and the whole thing came in the entirely recyclable Eco-Chill box which Gousto says has reduced its carbon footprint by 80 to 90 per cent compared to its old insulator. Recipes are straightforward and well explained and particularly useful for those midweek nights when inspiration is lacking – although there are more involved recipes for leisurely weekend cooking too. Our Mexican-style feast with pulled pork birria tacos was a real treat while our lamb keema saag with nigella rice and naan was better than any takeaway. It’s nothing short of a dinnertime dream.

  1. £2 from
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SimplyCook recipe box

  • Best: Budget recipe box
  • Number of portions: Two to four people
  • Delivery frequency: Weekly, fortnightly or monthly
  • Why we love it
    • Fits through the letterbox
    • Can cook meals when it suits you
    • Good range of cuisines
    • Offers a £1 trial box
    • All packaging recyclable
  • Take note
    • Most ingredients need to be bought separately

Want a little more flexibility? This is a slightly different type of meal kit that we think is genius. SimplyCook send letterbox-sized packages containing pots of herbs, pastes, spices and stocks, then you add the rest. That means you can use whatever you have left in the fridge or add extra ingredients to feed more people. Each pot comes with an easy recipe card plus a tear-off shopping list for what you’ll need to buy, though we already had most of ours in the cupboard including rice, honey and onions.

We loved the fact that we didn’t need to be at home when the box was delivered (or worry about it sitting outside), could switch up ingredients as we fancied and especially that there was no rush to cook anything. All our pots had at least a six-month shelf life so we didn’t need to worry if we couldn’t cook for any reason. We tried sticky Korean drumsticks, a creamy makhani, Cuban mojo pasta and beef massaman and all were speedy, straightforward and very tasty. With more than 140 recipes to choose from, we reckon it’s the simplest (and cheapest) way to shake up dinner time. Plus, you can get your first box for just £3.

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Pasta Evangelists recipe box

Pasta Evangelists-indybest
  • Best: For speedy cooking
  • Number of portions: Can be added per portion for any number of people
  • Delivery frequency: Every one, two, three or four weeks
  • Why we love it
    • Restaurant quality pasta
    • Very quick to cook
    • Can be frozen

If you’d love to replicate restaurant-style pasta at home but don’t want to spend hours covered in flour faffing with a pasta machine, this is the subscription for you. There are 20 fresh pasta dishes on offer each week and the company deliver packs of fresh pasta plus pre-portioned sauces and extra garnishes such as parmesan.

It’s perfect if you want minimal cooking and food on the table in minutes as all you need to do is cook the pasta and heat the sauce. It was by far the fastest recipe box we tested and we’d never reach for a weeknight takeaway again with this waiting in the fridge, though it’s not best suited to anyone keen to improve their cooking skills.

We love the flexibility of this subscription too – you can choose how often you want it, cancel or skip any time and add as many portions as you need, whether you’re eating alone or catering for a dinner party. Everything can be frozen too, which is a huge bonus as you’re not tied to cooking if your plans change and won’t waste food. It’s also worth noting that there are vegan and vegetarian options, kids-size portions and a range of extras that can be added including focaccia, extra virgin olive oil and desserts. Though it does work out a little pricey for pasta alone, we’re still dreaming of the mushroom pappardelle we tried so we’d happily fork out for it again in future.

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HelloFresh recipe box

Hello Fresh-indybest
  • Best: For flexibility
  • Number of portions: Two, three or four
  • Delivery frequency: Weekly
  • Why we love it
    • Good choice of recipes
    • Range of world cuisines
    • Flexible subscription

HelloFresh is the name to know in recipe subscriptions, with nearly 8 million active customers worldwide digging into their delivery box each week. It’s aimed at those who want to take the hassle out of home-cooked meals but is fantastically flexible too – customers can tailor their box each week, skip or cancel their subscription at any time and choose meals suited to various diets and tastes including calorie-conscious, veggie, family friendly, street food and rapid cook, which are ready to eat in around 20 minutes. You can even add desserts, lunches and brunches for a real one-stop shop. As with most subscriptions, the more you order, the cheaper it works out per portion, with the cheapest option including five recipes per week for four people.

The box couldn’t be easier to understand. Each recipe comes in its own labelled paper bag so you won’t waste time digging around for ingredients before cooking. We did feel there could have been a little less plastic packaging though – our potatoes could have been loose rather than in an individually portioned bag for instance. However, recipes were very easy to follow with hearty portions so there’s no chance you’ll be hungry afterwards. Our Wonka-themed Unbelievably Scrummy Burger was delicious, while our chicken and mushroom pie was a triumph, with flaky puff pastry, buttery mash and a delicious creamy sauce, though we would have loved some extra to serve with the mash. However, if you need regular dinner time inspo, look no further.

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Green Chef recipe box

Green Chef-indybest
  • Best: Healthy recipe box
  • Numbers of portions: Two or four people
  • Delivery frequency: Weekly
  • Why we love it
    • Suits different diets
    • Make healthy eating easy
    • Quick to cook
  • Take note
    • Doesn’t offer single portions

Signing up to a recipe subscription doesn’t need to mean daily indulgence and derailing the diet. Green Chef offers menus to suit those following flexitarian, pescatarian, vegan, vegetarian, keto and lower carb eating plans, so you’ll never be stuck with meals you don’t want.

We loved opening our box to see so much veg and knowing that we could rustle up healthy, balanced meals in no time. Both the recipes we tried took less than 30 minutes to cook and were very straightforward. Portion size was good – both meals were surprisingly filling but there were definitely no leftovers. We found our smoked tofu laksa a little salty for our taste but the Dan Dan inspired pork curry with courgette ribbons and pickled cucumbers was delicious. A great choice all round if you want to embrace healthier eating in 2024.

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Riverford recipe box

  • Best: Organic recipe box
  • Number of portions: Two
  • Delivery frequence: One off boxes though some regular orders every one, two, three or four weeks are possible Why we love it
  • Why we love it
    • Excellent organic ingredients
    • Clear recipes that would be easy to reuse
    • Generous portions
    • Good vegan and vegetarian options
  • Take note
    • Some recipes took a little longer to cook than stated

Ingredients don’t get any better than the ones included in recipe boxes from Riverford. All are seasonal, organic and straight from Riverford’s organic farm – we loved the fact that as many as possible came loose without packaging and that vegetables needed a good scrub to get rid of the soil. Delivery was also the best of all the boxes we tried. To minimise carbon emissions, delivery days are limited depending on your postcode and any Riverford packaging, including ice packs, can be left outside before the next delivery and they will be collected for reuse, composting or recycling. We were even called to check we had received our box as the delivery driver had come earlier than expected.

Though there are fewer recipes to choose from each week than with some of the bigger brands, they’re all inventive, veg-packed and healthy. We tried a vegetable massaman traybake with rice and a lemony chicken and spinach balti and both were outstanding. We did find the traybake took a little longer to cook than stated and both were fairly lengthy recipes, but portions were generous and we even had some leftover for lunch the next day.

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Côte at home recipe box

Cote at Home-indybest
  • Best: For special occasions
  • Number of portions: Two to six people
  • Delivery frequency: One off
  • Why we love it
    • Takes the stress out of special events
    • High-quality food
    • Simple cooking
    • No commitment
  • Take note
    • Some may prefer to do more hands-on cooking

Not everyone likes being tied into a recipe subscription, but we love the idea of ordering meal kits to make special occasions stress-free. Côte at Home is a one-stop shop for year-round meal kits that bring a French flair to every event from Valentine’s Day to Christmas. There are even three-course lobster date night kits with optional wine pairings if you’re really going all-out to impress, plus side dishes including cheeses and charcuterie that can be added.

We tried The Côte Christmas Feast (£99.95, and found it made even the most high-pressure meal of the year a doddle. It came with a turkey breast and all the trimmings including pigs in blankets, spiced braised red cabbage, roasted parsnips with chestnuts and pork and apricot stuffing, plus some deliciously decadent truffle gratin dauphinoise potatoes. We loved the fact that the kit gave clear instructions about when to cook each element so we didn’t need to worry about timings and could get everything ready to eat at the same time. Admittedly, there was very little actual cooking as everything was chopped and pre-prepared, so we only had to heat dishes, roll stuffing balls and baste the turkey while cooking. Still, if we were actually cooking this on Christmas Day, we reckon this would be the shortcut we’d be asking Santa for.

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Matsudai ramen recipe box

Matsudai ramen-indybest
  • Best: Food critic-approved recipe box
  • Number of portions: Each kit serves one so multiple can be bought for more people
  • Delivery portions: One off boxes or delivered monthly
  • Why we love it
    • Restaurant quality ramen
    • Can be frozen
  • Take note
    • Delivery is extra

After starting life as a pop-up in 2019, Matsudai started selling at-home ramen kits in early 2021 and have never looked back. They have since opened Wales’s first ramen shop in Cardiff and picked up rave reviews from esteemed food critics including Jay Rayner and Tom Parker-Bowles.

You don’t need to go all the way to Wales to eat some of the best ramen in the UK though. These DIY kits can be bought as a one-off or you can sign up for a subscription of a minimum of two ramen per month, delivered on Friday or Saturday only. There’s a good selection available including several vegan versions – we especially loved our sunset red tonkotsu ramen which had a rich, warming broth pre-cooked for several hours, spring onions, mushrooms, thin handmade noodles, braised pork belly chashu and a dose of rayu chilli oil. It was simple to cook and we couldn’t quite believe we were sitting down to authentic flavourful ramen at our kitchen table a matter of minutes later. Better still, if you can’t cook it immediately, you can pop it in the freezer for restaurant-ready ramen whenever you fancy.

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Red Letter Days The Sunday roast collection at home meal kit with My Supper Hero

Red Letter Days-recipe-box-indybest
  • Best: Recipe box for gifting
  • Number of portions: Four
  • Delivery frequency: One off
  • Why we love it
    • No commitment
    • Makes a great present
    • Very little preparation to be done
  • Take note
    • Some people may prefer more hands-on cooking
    • Expensive

A bunch of flowers is all very well, but we’re not sure anything beats receiving a whole Sunday roast on your doorstep. This voucher from Red Letter Days can be swapped for one of four roasts – black garlic and miso roasted beef, truffle roasted chicken, black truffle and honey glazed British ham or slow roasted lamb shoulder with pea fricassee. All come from My Supper Hero, a company founded by TV presenter Myleene Klass and restaurateur Jamie Barber that offers top-notch meal kits with no commitment. Send just the voucher instead and they can choose to receive the delivery whenever suits them at any point over the next 12 months.

Every kit serves four and includes all you’ll need for a slap-up Sunday feast. There’s no chopping and dicing either as everything is ready to heat on the hob or put in the oven, so even a novice can dish up a restaurant-quality dinner. Ours included beef rump, gravy, creamed savoy cabbage, carrots and parsnips, confit Koffmann potatoes, sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire puddings and horseradish cream. Yes, it’s more expensive than buying it all separately, but we can promise this will make someone’s day.

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Cookaway recipe box

  • Best: For world cuisines
  • Number of portions: Two to three or four to five
  • Delivery frequency: One off boxes
  • Why we love it
    • Good eco-friendly packaging
    • Huge range of recipes
    • Good for special occasions
  • Take note
    • More expensive than others

If you’ve always fancied cooking perfect Pakistani meals or want to make Greek dishes your go-to, Cookaway has the box for you. There’s no subscription to sign up for so you can order any kit that takes your fancy whenever you’re in the mood to cook.

There are over eight cuisines and 55 menus to choose from including dishes from Japan, Malaysia, Spain and Scotland plus halal, gluten-free and vegan options. All are designed and tested by chefs who are experts in that area including 2019 MasterChef champion Irini Tzortzoglou, who created the Greek dishes. We especially liked the fact that there are more than main courses on offer to really give you a flavour of each cuisine – boxes include a Malaysian night market experience including four street food dishes and a Greek meze experience which comes with six hot and cold mezes.

It’s ideal for weekend feasts too. We tried the ultimate aged Chateaubriand experience which came with 30-day aged fillet steak, bearnaise sauce, sweet potato fries, roasted vine tomatoes and a mixed leaf salad. Created by 2014 MasterChef finalist Jack Lucas, it came with audio notes from the chef to listen to as we cooked and we were seriously wowed by the end result. Though, just remember it’s designed for weekend indulgence rather than speedy weeknight meals so it’s best ordered when you have plenty of time to enjoy the process.

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Pizza Pilgrims’ pizza in the post

Pizza Pilgrims pizza in the post-indybest
  • Best: Family favourite recipe box
  • Number of portions: Two or four
  • Delivery frequency: Weekly, fortnightly or monthly and one-off boxes
  • Why we love it
    • Pizza is excellent
    • All the family will love it
    • We liked unusual pizza box packaging

Obviously, if you loathe pizza, this is not one for you. But if you’re already regularly splashing out on a takeaway version, we can promise this Pizza Pilgrims option will wow you.

Each kit arrives in a pizza box serving two and contains 48-hour proved dough, fresh Fior di Latte mozzarella, basil, parmesan, Caputo flour for dusting and crushed Italian tomato sauce. Boxes, ice packs and plastic pots can be recycled, though Pizza Pilgrims recommend reusing the pots as they’re dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe. You can choose to be sent margherita every time or to choose either margherita, double pepperoni and spicy honey or the monthly chef’s special if you fancy some variety. It’s possible to buy a one-off box without signing up too. The pizzas are a little challenging to make as, unlike others, they’re cooked in a frying pan on the hob before grilling so we’d recommend scanning the QR code on the card to watch the helpful video first. However, we were floored by just how well ours turned out, with a base that was one of the lightest and crispest we’ve ever eaten (even if we do say so ourselves).

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Libertine Burger recipe box

Libertine Burger-indybest
  • Best: For burger lovers
  • Number of portions: Four
  • Delivery frequency: One-off boxes
  • Why we love it
    • Order when it suits with no subscription
    • Vegan option available
    • Fun quirky packaging
  • Take note
    • Chips or sides will need to be bought separately
    • Not for burger haters

You’ll never crave a high street burger again once you’ve cooked your own with a little help from Libertine Burger. This small British company started life as a burger van and went on to establish three shops in Leamington Spa, Rugby and Stratford-upon-Avon. They started delivering DIY burger kits in 2020 (no prizes for guessing why) and now offer four boxes, one of which is vegan. All come with various trimmings including cute diner-style squeezy bottles of ketchup and mustard. Ours – No 25 – came with crispy smoky bacon, red onion jam, lettuce, pickles and Stilton. The meat is fantastic quality too, made using their own blend of 50 per cent chuck, 30 per cent brisket and 20 per cent flank from Aberdeenshire cattle and dry-aged for a minimum of 28 days.

Instructions are easy to follow, even down to the order you should add the lettuce and ketchup. We had thought the bacon may not be up to scratch as it was pre-cooked but the whole combination was so tasty, we could barely believe we’d cooked it ourselves. It’s pure burger brilliance.

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Recipe box FAQs

Things to consider when choosing a recipe box

When picking the right recipe box for you, there is a lot you have to consider, from the range of recipes to the number of portions and price. Of course, the quality of ingredients is something you will want to take into account, too, making sure they fit with your dietary requirements and preferences. Similarly, how many recipes you want each week will be a factor, and could change depending on your social or work life.

It's important to consider your level of culinary skills as well, as although recipe boxes are a great way to get better and more into cooking from scratch, you’ll need to make sure you're not too out of your depth. Often though, the biggest consideration is price. How much are you willing to spend, and how much would you spend in comparison to a regular food shop? If you’re unsure what exactly it is you’re after, the good news is that many of the boxes included in our round-up allow you to sign up for free or discounted trials before you fully commit.

The verdict: Recipe boxes and food deliveries

We were impressed by all these boxes but Gousto stood out for its eco-conscious packaging, range of recipes and value for money. For an even more budget-conscious option, SimplyCook delivers pots of inspiration that we loved being able to cook whenever it suited us. However, we’d happily splurge on a box from Cookaway whenever we wanted to spoil ourselves with restaurant-quality dishes in our own home.

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